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Teaching Tolerance announces recipients for national education award

The SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project today announced the five recipients of the 2014 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching – a biennial award given to K-12 educators nationwide who excel at promoting respect and a passion for justice among students. 

The SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project announced today the five recipients of the 2014 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching – a biennial award given to K-12 educators nationwide who excel at promoting respect and a passion for justice among students.

“We are proud to present this award to five outstanding teachers who go above and beyond in their work to foster respect and understanding among students,” said Maureen Costello, Teaching Tolerance director. “They’ve all demonstrated a commitment to ensuring that each student not only feels valued but also appreciates differences, helping to ensure a future where people thrive in diversity.”

The awardees include:

  • Christopher Avery, director of programs of Steppingstone Scholars in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which helps underserved students achieve academic success. Formerly an eighth-grade world cultures teacher and director of community and diversity at The Haverford School, he also consults for TURNING STONEchoice, a nonprofit dedicated to helping students make self-empowering choices and publisher of his most recent work, ANGST, a young adult novel about navigating high school.
  • Amy Vatne Bintliff, a reading teacher at Oregon Middle School in Oregon, Wisconsin. As a member of her school’s committee on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and Response to Intervention (two research-based approaches to addressing student behavior), she leads restorative justice circles that allow students to speak about their experiences in a safe environment. She is the author of Re-engaging Disconnected Youth: Transformative Learning through Restorative and Social Justice Education.
  • Christopher Hoeh, a second-grade teacher at Cambridge Friends School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has developed an academically rigorous, multi-disciplinary, yearlong social studies curriculum that follows the creation of clothing from cotton. Each step in this process is connected to historical and contemporary struggles for social justice. Hoeh has led anti-racist study groups and shares his substantial experience as a mentor to practicing teachers.
  • Barrie Moorman, a high school history teacher at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. She engages her students by taking them out of the classroom and into the community, including a civil rights tour of the South to empower her students through history. Moorman also emphasizes critical thinking and learning through stories. She facilitates Race and Equity in Education seminars in the District of Columbia.
  • Michelle Nicola, a Spanish and Language Arts teacher at Bridger Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, and formerly at De La Salle North Catholic High School. Nicola previously taught courses on equity and social justice at George Fox University. She uses innovative learning techniques and is always ready to turn her classroom into a theater, dance club or soap opera to reach her students.

During the awards ceremony, Teaching Tolerance unveiled short videos highlighting each awardee’s teaching methods. These videos will be shared as a model for teachers across the nation.

The awards were presented July 13 following a three-day event in Montgomery, Alabama, where the winners participated in an intensive workshop and worked together on a collaborative project to be shared with the nation’s teachers.

To qualify for the award, teachers must have demonstrated excellence in research-based classroom practices aimed at reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and creating an equitable school environment. Each awardee received $2,500.

Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children. It produces and distributes tools at no cost to teachers, including Teaching Tolerance magazine, online curricula and professional development resources, and multimedia teaching kits that introduce students to various civil rights issues.